Theses Digitisation And Fight Against Plagiarism In Nigerian Varsities, By Rahma Oladosu
Plagiarism is generally defined as “literary theft” and “academic dishonesty” in literature, and it is important to be fully aware of this scourge in order to know how to tackle it.
Plagiarism is a serious form of research misconduct. The literal meaning of the Latin phrase “to Plagiare” is “to steal or to kidnap”. The act of taking the writings of another person and passing them off as one’s own is plagiarism.
It is no longer news that most higher institutions all over the world are battling with the ‘plague’ of plagiarism and are working round the clock to device means to curb the ugly trend.
Educational institutions therefore need to recognise that addressing plagiarism requires a holistic and multi-stakeholder approach which aims to foster scholarly, community-based solutions.
As part of efforts to promote good “clean” research in all the varsities in Nigeria and to effectively curb the ‘evil’ of plagiarism, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has commenced a process of digitising thesis and projects in the nation’s higher institutions. Executive Secretary of TETFund, Professor Suleiman Bogoro disclosed this at a workshop on the thesis digitisation project for beneficiary institutions.
Bogoro said plans were also underway to ensure the full digitisation of libraries in tertiary institutions in the country, noting that the digitisation of libraries would discourage plagiarism by researchers at any level. He lamented that important materials and thesis have also been lost due to the incidence of fire outbreaks.
The importance of digitisation of dissertations and theses for researchers, universities and libraries is quite obvious for storage and easy access.
The digitisation project is driven by concern for storage, accessibility and the fight against plagiariam, even though it is also driven by the rise of the Institutional Repository (IR), and the momentum of the Open Access movement.
The proposed digitisation project will dematerialise and electronise thesis and projects, starting with the thesis at the PhD and Masters levels across beneficiary institutions.
We are living witnesses to the fact that the world has gone digital and we cannot continue to operate in an analogue mode. A number of materials, from post-graduate and even undergraduate thesis, have disappeared during fire incidents, once the physical papers are burnt. If the theses are dematerialised and stored in various forms at different centres, it will be easier to access them, going forward.
The digitisation of thesis provides easy access to inputs and outcomes of research at a click of the button and within seconds or minutes.
Digitisation would increase the global presence of Nigerian tertiary institutions and improve their global ranking and boost the rating of our universities. It would also go a long way in the detection and curbing of plagiarism, which is a serious breach of academic integrity that seeks to detract from the value of original and honest works of scholarship.
Meanwhile, the project is equally achievable in Nigeria in view of the fact that the British Library offers digitisation services for any and all paper-based material. Many thesis collections have already been digitised on behalf of U.K. institutions, including digitised masters theses, journals, archival records, newspapers, manuscripts and much more. The British Library’s E-Theses Online Service (EThOS) is an almost-complete index of all doctoral level theses awarded by UK universities. EThOS is a one-stop shop for these theses, regardless of their original print or e-format or the year of award.
Plagiarism is a menace that has eaten deep into our educational system. It should be addressed immediately so as to curb its negative effects on the individual, the educational system, the society and the world at large. With TETFund’s brilliant move to begin thesis digitisation, it is safe to say that the end of this evil act is near.
Once the TETFUND commences the project, it is advisabe that it should be made to extend to private universities too, beyond just the public ones.
Rahma Olamide Oladosu is a Staff Writer with the Economic Confidential